Learning the past simple tense is an important milestone in English language acquisition. It allows elementary school children to express actions and events that occurred in the past. This article aims to provide teachers with effective strategies and engaging activities to teach the past simple tense in a fun and interactive manner.
In this article, we will explore the concept of the past simple tense, including its formation, usage, and common examples. We will also provide a comprehensive example lesson plan that incorporates various activities to reinforce the understanding and application of the past simple tense.
By implementing the strategies and activities outlined in this article, teachers can create an engaging learning environment where students can confidently use the past simple tense in their spoken and written communication. Let’s dive in and discover how to teach the past simple tense effectively to elementary school children.
How To Teach: Past Simple Tense
What is the Past Simple Tense?
To teach past simple tense, you first need to understand the grammar point for yourself. Before teaching grammar, or thinking about playing grammar games, it is a good idea to take a brief moment to refamiliarize yourself with it before you start to teach.
The past simple tense is a verb tense used to talk about actions or events that occurred and were completed in the past. It is also known as the simple past tense. This tense is used when referring to a specific time in the past or when describing a series of actions that happened one after another.
Formation of the Past Simple Tense
In English, the past simple tense is typically formed by adding “-ed” to regular verbs. For example:
- Base Form: walk Past Simple: walked
- Base Form: play Past Simple: played
However, it is important to note that irregular verbs have different forms in the past simple tense and do not follow the “-ed” pattern. These irregular verbs must be memorized individually. For example:
- Base Form: go Past Simple: went
- Base Form: eat Past Simple: ate
- Base Form: see Past Simple: saw
Using the Past Simple Tense
The past simple tense is used to talk about actions or situations that happened and ended in the past. It is often used to describe completed activities or events. Here are some common situations where the past simple tense is used:
- Completed actions in the past:
- Yesterday, I walked to the park.
- She played the piano beautifully.
- Past habits or repeated actions:
- We always visited our grandparents on Sundays.
- He often rode his bicycle to school.
- Series of events in the past:
- First, I woke up. Then, I brushed my teeth and had breakfast.
- She entered the room, smiled, and sat down.
- Past experiences or personal narratives:
- When I was a child, I lived in a small village.
- Last summer, we traveled to France and visited famous landmarks.
- Reported speech:
- She said, “I finished my homework last night.”
- He told me that he saw a movie yesterday.
It is important to note that time expressions such as yesterday, last week, in 2005, or when I was younger, are often used alongside the past simple tense to provide a clearer indication of when the action took place.
By understanding the formation and usage of the past simple tense, elementary school children can effectively express actions and events that occurred in the past, allowing them to communicate their experiences and stories more accurately in English.
Teach Past Simple Tense
Here are some straightforward pointers on how to teach past simple tense:
Introduce Regular Verbs
Begin by explaining that regular verbs in the past simple tense often end with “-ed.” Write a list of common regular verbs on the board, such as play, jump, talk, and walk. Pronounce each verb clearly and ask students to repeat after you. Practice forming the past simple tense by adding “-ed” to the base form of the verb.
Explore Irregular Verbs
Introduce the concept of irregular verbs, explaining that these verbs do not follow the usual “-ed” pattern in the past simple tense. Provide examples of common irregular verbs, such as go, eat, have, and see. Practice the past simple forms of these irregular verbs, encouraging students to repeat and memorize them.
Use Visual Aids
Visual aids are effective tools for teaching the past simple tense. Create flashcards or use illustrations that depict actions in the past. Show the flashcards one by one and ask students to identify the action and form a sentence using the past simple tense. For example, show a picture of a child eating an ice cream cone and ask, “What did the child do?” Encourage students to respond using the past simple tense: “The child ate an ice cream cone.”
Storytelling and Role-Play
Engage students in storytelling and role-play activities to contextualize the use of the past simple tense. Choose a simple story or create one yourself, using past tense verbs throughout. Read the story aloud, emphasizing the past tense verbs. Afterward, divide the students into groups and assign roles for them to reenact the story. This interactive activity reinforces the understanding and usage of the past simple tense in a memorable way.
Verb Tense Games
Incorporate games into the lesson to make learning the past simple tense enjoyable. Play games like “Simon Says” or “Verb Charades,” where students act out actions in the past while their classmates guess the verb and form sentences using the past simple tense. You can also create a “Verb Tense Board Game,” where students advance by correctly using the past simple tense in sentences.
Fill in the Blanks
Provide students with worksheets or handouts containing sentences with missing past tense verbs. Students must fill in the blanks with the correct past simple form of the verb. Gradually increase the complexity of the sentences as students progress, incorporating both regular and irregular verbs. This exercise reinforces the proper usage of the past simple tense.
Encourage students to practice writing using the past simple tense. Provide writing prompts, such as “Write about your last summer vacation” or “Describe your favorite childhood memory.” Encourage students to incorporate a variety of regular and irregular past tense verbs in their writing. Review and provide feedback on their written work, highlighting any errors and helping them improve their understanding of the past simple tense.
How To Teach: Past Simple Tense – Example Lesson Plan
Level: Elementary school children (ESL learners)
Objective: By the end of the lesson, students will be able to use the past simple tense correctly in spoken and written sentences.
- Flashcards with pictures depicting actions in the past.
- Whiteboard or blackboard and markers.
- Storybook with simple past tense sentences.
- Verb Tense Board Game.
- Worksheets with fill-in-the-blank sentences.
- Writing prompts on strips of paper.
Warm-up (5 minutes):
- Begin by asking students questions to review present tense verbs: “What do you do after school?” or “What are your favorite activities?”
- Introduce the concept of the past simple tense by asking a few questions using past tense verbs: “What did you do last weekend?” or “What was your favorite game when you were younger?”
Introduction (10 minutes):
- Write the words “Regular” and “Irregular” on the board.
- Explain that regular verbs usually end with “-ed” in the past simple tense, while irregular verbs have different forms.
- Provide examples of regular verbs (e.g., play, jump) and irregular verbs (e.g., go, eat).
- Ask students to identify the verbs and determine whether they are regular or irregular.
Presentation (15 minutes):
- Show flashcards with pictures depicting actions in the past (e.g., a child playing soccer, a girl reading a book).
- Ask students to describe what they see using the past simple tense. For example, “What did the child do?” Encourage responses such as, “The child played soccer.”
- Repeat this activity with several flashcards, using both regular and irregular verbs.
Practice (20 minutes):
- Read a simple storybook that uses the past simple tense. Emphasize the past tense verbs while reading.
- After reading, divide students into groups and assign roles for them to reenact the story using the past simple tense.
- Provide prompts and encourage students to create sentences using the past simple tense. For example, “Tell me three things you did yesterday.”
- Play the Verb Tense Board Game, where students advance by correctly using the past simple tense in sentences.
Application (15 minutes):
- Distribute worksheets with fill-in-the-blank sentences. Include a mix of regular and irregular verbs.
- In pairs or individually, students complete the sentences by filling in the blanks with the correct past simple tense form of the verb.
- Review the answers as a class, discussing any difficulties encountered.
Production (10 minutes):
- Distribute writing prompts on strips of paper.
- Each student selects a prompt and writes a short paragraph using the past simple tense. Encourage creativity and the use of both regular and irregular verbs.
- Provide feedback and discuss the paragraphs as a class, highlighting correct usage and areas for improvement.
Wrap-up (5 minutes):
- Review the main points of the lesson, emphasizing the use of the past simple tense.
- Ask students to share one thing they learned about the past simple tense.
To further reinforce the past simple tense, assign a short homework task, such as writing a diary entry describing their activities over the weekend using the past simple tense.
Note: The time allocated for each activity can be adjusted based on the pace of the class and the needs of the students.
Teaching the past simple tense to elementary school children is an essential aspect of English language learning. By providing clear explanations, engaging activities, and ample practice opportunities, teachers can help students grasp the concept and confidently use the past simple tense in their communication. Through interactive games, storytelling, role-play, and writing exercises, students can develop their understanding and fluency in expressing past actions and events. By equipping young learners with the skills to effectively use the past simple tense, we empower them to share their experiences, stories, and personal narratives in English.